So how do travelers manage to get through a day cruising along in ships like the Zaandam? It is true that there is a lot of stress. So many decisions to make. First there is breakfast. Do you want to eat in the elegant, full service dining room or in the casual buffet venue on the top deck? And how do you begin to choose between all the food selections available?
After you have managed to make a decision and have finished a sumptuous breakfast, then you are faced with what to do next. You can sit in one of the dozen or so venues looking out at the vast sea, but which one? The library? The pool area? The main lounge or mini lounge or maxi lounge or aft deck?
But maybe you don’t want to sit and look out at the sparkling blue waters decorated with whitecaps. Maybe you want something more. Every hour there are about a dozen choices: baking classes, classes on preparing desserts, another on appetizers or one on fish recipes. There is always an option of learning about how eating more translates to losing pounds or why calories don’t count. Just thinking about these options makes you hungry, so it is time for your first cappuccino and an oversized, freshly-baked donut or croissant at the Deck 4 café. Now fortified you are ready for a game of competitive bridge or mahjong or chess or a lesson on how to play one of these games. But you don’t want to miss the talk about how to buy the perfect diamond or how to use Microsoft products or a class in chocolate tasting. These tough choices cause more stress, which can be ameliorated only with another cappuccino and croissant.
You look at your watch and realize it is time for the first major presentation of the day in the large theater, a lecture on what to eat on board. You rush to get a seat only to find that this lecture is SRO, so it is back to the café. Now you are ready for something more serious, so it is time to finish your coffee and sweetroll in the salon area where a classical pianist and violinist are playing Mozart sonatas. After the concert you wander up to the pool where people are sunning and splashing around in a small pool and order a Bloody Mary to calm your nerves before lunch.
There are so many lunch options you don’t know where to start. Of course you could try the main dining room or perhaps the exclusive, extra cost, gourmet restaurant, but you are not really dressed properly. You could do the buffet, but that tends to be crowded at lunch time. So you settle on the café in the pool area and get a plate full of tacos and a large salad, followed by an ice cream Sunday.
Now it is time for a nap, but that will mean missing your favorite activity, the trivia quiz contest, next to bingo, the most popular of all the activities on the ship. So you sign up to be on a team and do pretty well, but not so well as to reduce all the stress, so it is time to calm your nerves by attending high tea, followed by a lecture in the main theater about the culinary delights of Central Asia. After this you have to decide between a class in ballroom dancing or learning the tango, a stressful decision, so you decide to order a gin and tonic and relax in one of the lounge chairs by the enclosed pool on the top deck before returning to your room to dress for dinner where you will be seated with nice, well-traveled people from all over the world, whom you don’t know and may never talk to again. The conversation at dinner is about mutual interests associated with travel, avoiding any mention of politics, as you sip wine and think about whether you want to take in the evening song and dance act or to watch the ship’s movie or stop in the bar with the jazz singer. This choice, of course, leads to more stress but not enough to spoil your delicious three-course meal followed by a scrumptious dessert. After dinner, you decide you have time to try one or two hands of blackjack in the casino, which is stressful because you lose fifty bucks and can’t decide whether after attending the evening entertainment in the main theater, you want to take in the bar scene on the upper deck or call it quits for the day.
So yeah, it is tough being on these cruises. There is just too much stress, but not so much as to spoil the experience or keep you from repeating the cycle the next day.